EXPLAINER: What is excited delirium?

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In this image from police body cam video, Minneapolis police officers attempt to place George Floyd in a police vehicle, on May 25, 2020, outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, as it is shown Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of Floyd, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

MINNEAPOLIS – The attorney for the officer on trial in George Floyd ’s death has raised the concept of excited delirium as testimony examines whether reasonable force was used on Floyd.

Derek Chauvin, 45, who is white, is charged with murder and manslaughter. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was arrested outside a neighborhood market on May 25, accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. A panicky-sounding Floyd writhed and claimed to be claustrophobic as police tried to put him in the squad car.

Thomas Lane, another officer at the scene, can be heard on body camera video as officers hold Floyd down, asking whether Floyd might be experiencing excited delirium.

HOW DID EXCITED DELIRIUM COME UP?

It came up Tuesday as Nicole Mackenzie, a Minneapolis police officer who trains other officers in medical care, testified for the prosecution. Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, asked Mackenzie to define excited delirium and explain how officers are trained to recognize and respond to it.

Mackenzie described it as a combination of “psychomotor agitation, psychosis, hypothermia, a wide variety of other things you might see in a person or rather bizarre behavior.”

Under questioning from Nelson, Mackenzie agreed that people exhibiting “something like excited delirium" have often taken drugs. She also agreed that someone experiencing the condition might have “superhuman strength.”

On Thursday, Dr. Bill Smock — an expert in forensic medicine who works as a police surgeon for the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky and as a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Louisville — testified that he believes excited delirium is real. But he said Floyd met none of the 10 criteria developed by the American College of Emergency Physicians. A minimum of six signs are required for the diagnosis, he said.